PITTSBURGH—The Pirates were criticized heavily in the offseason by the media and fans for not making a move to add a frontline starting pitcher following the retirement of A.J. Burnett, the loss of free agent J.A. Happ to the Blue Jays and the trade of Charlie Morton to the Phillies.
General manager Neal Huntington, though, was confident the organization had enough depth to survive the losses.
For example, at the outset of the season, all five pitchers in the Triple-A Indianapolis rotation rank among the top two dozen prospects in the system, headlined by No. 1 righthander Tyler Glasnow and No. 4 righty Jameson Taillon.
The 22-year-old Glasnow returned to Indianapolis after making eight starts there at the end of last season, when he struck out 48 in 41 innings and recorded a 2.20 ERA.
The 24-year-old Taillon sat out the 2014 and 2015 seasons while recovering from Tommy John surgery and then a sports hernia. He reached Indy late in the 2013 season and recorded a 3.89 ERA in six starts.
Brault and Kuhl are pitching at Triple-A for the first time, while Williams went 0-2, 2.57 in five starts at Triple-A New Orleans last season before the Marlins traded him to the Pirates in October as compensation for minor league pitching coordinator Jim Benedict being hired by Miami.
At least one Indianapolis starter will make his major league debut this season in a top-heavy Pittsburgh rotation led by righthander Gerrit Cole and lefty Francisco Liriano.
Righthander Nick Kingham (No. 13) is scheduled to join Indianapolis’ rotation during the second half of the season. He had Tommy John surgery last season after making 20 starts for Indy in 2014 and 2015.
• Catcher Elias Diaz began the season on the major league disabled list with right elbow soreness, though the Pirates expect to option him to Indianapolis when healthy.
• Lefthander Stephen Tarpley—acquired in January 2015 along with Brault in a trade with the Orioles for Travis Snider, began the season on the high Class A Bradenton disabled list with a strained right oblique muscle.